Text belonging to "In the footsteps of Juan Goytisolo through the" Campos de Níjar ", Critical Essay by Ramón Fernández Palmeral.
In chapter VII, of Juan Goytisolo's book «Campos de Níjar» the narrator traveler says: «On the third day of the trip I set off having previously decided on the itinerary.
The landlord of the Cabo de Gata inn had shown me a path through the middle of the mountains, which linked the salt flats with San José… ».
This road to which the narrator refers was an old miners' road that crossed the mountains through the corner of Martos to the Cortijo del Romeral owned by Don José Montoya, it was the shortest stretch to San José, however that road disappeared in favor of the first cars, motorized vehicles and the asphalt of the road, which take the current route of the road that passes through Pujaire, Ruescas, crossing to the Cortijo Nazareno, Las Bocas, the Pozo de los Frailes and San José.
Its Sports Port is striking, with a geographical location of 36º 46 ′ N. 2º 6 ′ W. Calling the owner of the inn's patron or patron was usual in Azorín, since in Don Quijote's route, in the first chapter, Azorín calls Dona Isabel patron.
This pattern is called Gabriel or Grabiel, which is the spelling formula. The patron proposed to the traveler to go out and look for a certain Argimiro, a cartman "who lived at the entrance of the town" (Cabo de Gata), since every morning he came and went from the salt flats to the Cortijo del Nazareno ».
This third day is Monday, he looks for Argimiro the carter, who lived at the entrance of the town "that everything that is ugly is friendly", he also has large and chipped teeth, because according to the narrator in that depressed Almería nobody He can be handsome, although he has an Arab nose that is like that of a koala, without me taking it into account because mine is like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Start the car, probably pulled by a mule, it must be very early since at nine in the morning it is in Boca de los Frailes (distance between Cabo Gata and Las Bocas, there are about 20 kilometers) and it does not even stop to describe the color of the hair of the draft animal, because it is an animal, or because this novel is about characters.
In the long-awaited dialogue, Argimiro tells of the gossip about the mess that "Gabrié" has with a Swedish woman (a married couple with a child who lived camped at the lighthouse), the narrator must refer to the only lighthouse there is, the one at Cabo de Cata, lighthouse which was built in 1863 on the ruins of the castle or fort of San Francisco de Paula, located at Punta del Cuchillo; Watch out for all boats looking for the Bay of Almería or Genoveses and warn of the dangerous Piedra Laja, half a mile from the cape and one meter deep. The most normal thing is to think that Argimiro would have made a metathesis by transposition or change of place of the sounds within the word, vulgarism, to the pronounced Grabié and not Gabrié. Substitution dyslexia, that is, changing one letter for another, common in the area.
Contractual studies of the Almeria lexicon that can be studied in The intercultural dimension in the Almeria lexicon, by Amalia Miras Baldó and Sergio Balches Arenas, University of Almería, Spain.
Gabriel's wife "hooked the two of them on the beach and put together the one of God is (sic) in Christ" Which comes to mean the arrest of Jesus, and the one that the Father put together with the Son, and could very well have avoided this drama bloody of the crucifixion of a young man of 33 years, who had not committed any crime. Goytisolo describes Argimiro's car with the lexical precision of a goldsmith of the word, we thank him for his effort, with a manchego cart muleteer slang that we hardly even know what he says.
The narrator writes: «The wagon in which we travel is small and rustic. Its adrales (lateral wood) are two wooden boards reinforced with a blade (esparto mats). The limoneras (beams or poles of the cart) are painted red and when the wheels run aground on the coping (trestle or ridges) of the road, the mule stops and Argimiro has to shake him with the whip ». Some poor salineros pass through the marshes with their satchels (cloth bags to store snacks) and wide-brimmed hats, they wear the red ones in tatters, but they are polite because when they cross they respond to the greeting.
The work in the salt flats is hard, the salt I eat everything, even the espadrilles made of pita or hemp. Today there is hardly any saline activity.
In the marshes there is an ornithological observatory for the study and contemplation of the birds: moorhen, red duck, small grebe, mallard, gray heron, laughing gulls and especially the pink flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus) July August and September It is the period of greatest concentration, they are also concentrated in the Salinas del Cerriollo (Roquetas). Classified by five phenological categories: wintering, sedentary, summer, passing through and constant. «After the salt flats, the path avoids the foothills of the mountains.
The ground is ocher and we cross the foothills of the mountains »(p.83) To go from Cabo de Cata to the Nazareno farmhouse there is no other road than through Pujaire, Ruescas and the central Michelinín and we can already see the crossroads: towards the north farmhouse from Los Matía, Los Nietos and Níjar, to the south, Las Bocas and San José.
In 1984, the Nazareno farmhouse was abandoned, a Spanish-Algerian lived in it, whose last name was León, and he survived by working as a laborer in a greenhouse. The narrator tells us that they see wastelands, fallows, fields of barley and wheat, this may indicate that it was spring, since it is in the middle of June when the harvest begins. Further ahead, the narrator tells us about the uncultivated lands, yearlings and fallows that are synonymous, lands in rest of cultivation.
Argimiro explains that some nights there was dancing in a farmhouse, near Albaricoques, and that there was an accident of a motorcycle that crashed into a boundary, because the driver, a friend of his, would come drunk, he will explain to us that it was not customary to dance holding hands. women dance alone to the sound of the fandangos that the waiters improvise, but when you have two drinks, they release truths with music, insults arrive and you can put together a good one.
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When the traveler asks Argimiro how long it has not rained, he replies that four drops fell in March, the mayor (we suppose it must be the one from Níjar), said that if the drought continued like this, they would have to remove the saint. This was one of the topics of the religiosity of the Andalusians to keep them in the backwardness.
But evidently the saints are taken out at Easter, which is almost always rainy times. Because rain has never been seen in August, the month of the Virgin.
The narrator uses a lexicon inappropriate for the region when he says: "The nava is wide, red in color." Indeed, the earth is reddish, of a red soulgrass, more typical of ceramics than for cultivation. On the other hand, saying "la nava" for arable plains is unknown in that area. He asked about the ownership of the fields, and Argimiro was happy to lower his voice that it belonged to Don José González Montoya. Indeed, Don José was the owner of all these lands up to the sea, his main farmhouse was the Romeral and also the Sotillo farmhouse where he had horses, close to the Genoese beach. Between 1983 and 1985 I knew the farmhouse and the foreman and many of its employees, Don José's widow, came every year to the Romeral with some friends, she invited me to have coffee. Don José died in 1960. He was the owner, according to what was said, of the Governor's house in Almería, a house in the style of the big houses of the north. And the Hotel San José.
Argimiro tells us about the buoyant period of mining in the area, there were about twelve lead and magnesium mines, and people did not have to emigrate. The Santa Barbara well was 365 meters deep, as I have already mentioned.
The Almeria mining crisis The decline of Almeria lead mining from 1870 was followed by the development of iron mining with heavy exploitation between 1885 and 1915. The exploitation of iron in Herrerías constituted the most outstanding aspect of Almagrera. Under foreign investment, after the depletion of silver deposits and the stoppage of drainage in the 1970s, iron continued to operate until the 1920s. When the first great mining crisis in Almeria, in the first decades of the last century, a spectacular migratory flow took place. Floods of miners from Almeria flowed northward, in two directions: the Murcian east and the interior of the peninsula, through the Linares and La Carolina mining basins in Jaén. Although our traveler speculates on the "negligence of governments, maladjustment to modern exploitation methods, Catalan industrial competence, etc." I do not understand what the Catalan industry comes here for when it was mainly textile and not mining.
When they arrive at the Nazareno farmhouse, the traveler gets out of the car and takes to the south, on the way to La Boca. Nine o'clock in the morning, they must have gotten up very early. That's four houses and a tobacconist.
After half an hour of rest, a new town emerges, El Pozo de los Frailes, it has a school, next to the road there is a large wheel, it is not explained that a blindfolded donkey pulls the marrana pole, moves the winch and the buckets go up with the water. There is also a windmill there that our traveler does not see. The children gang up and shout: "stranger, stranger", the bunch of kids follows him. And I wonder: if it's Monday and around ten in the morning, the children should be at school. There was a bar called León, a tobacconist, a grocery store, it didn't have a doctor, an apothecary on request, and the ugliest of lights, the one with the mercury lampposts, which gives off a reddish yellowish light.
The vision of a man on the road reading the newspaper is curious and strange, he is the mayor, as the traveler says, when in reality neither the newspapers arrive here nor is there a mayor, because it is a district of Níjar.
The children joke when, when asked how much is left for San José, they jokingly answer that six hours. "The road runs through an alfoz."Alfoz means suburb or end of a district, I don't know what exactly the narrator wants to tell us. Going down between gentle curves, to the left is the Sotillo farmhouse, big as a fort, some men take textile fibers from a pita to make ropes. San José is a boulevard of tall and thick eucalyptus trees, on the left Cerro Enmedio and on the right the outstanding barracks. The marina was not built until 1984. Artisanal and sport fishing is done by trammel, kite, trolling, longline and from the coast with a rod. Our traveler does not receive a good impression from San José: «It is a sad town, beaten by the wind, with half of the houses in a pool [there is an error, I should say whitewashed] and the other half with cracked walls. (The phrase refers to the state of the walls of the houses). Our traveler writes that, it seems that San José has not recovered from the mining crisis, evoking its past splendor.
The history of San José is different, it was born around its castle of San José in the seventeenth century due to the attacks on the south coast dating back from the reconquest, they escalated in the rebellion of the Moors 1569-1570, help was feared the Algerians from the peninsula by the Moors, called the "fifth column." Around the protection of these forts and coastal castles the fishermen were grouping themselves in cave houses, the first ones in San José were built in La Calilla. You can still see the excavations in the small cliffs, which were gradually abandoned, until the current houses were built. Mining came later, but this town was not important until 1984 when its marina was completed. On top of a hill is the school. The traveler passes through the door of "The church that is poor and its interior has a certain charm." This is saying nothing, it's like saying she's pretty. The church is actually a hermitage of fishermen, looking out to sea over the road. It reaches the solid barracks of the civil guard on a rocky promontory about 30 meters above sea level, located at the end of the only street in San José, it was built on the land where the castle was, it had been built in 1735 on top of another Arab, by design of the military engineer Felipe Crame, in the reign of Felipe V, as a coastal fort over another Muslim, according to Emiliano Martínez de Dios, and which was demolished to build the current Civil Guard barracks, which It is located on the promontory a kind of bell pepper on Tomato cove.
These castles were built a cistern, even today you can see the foundations of the primitive castle. The traveler turns from the barracks, lies down on the sand and bathes on a beach from where the watchtower of Cala Higuera can be seen, which is visible from the beach of La Calilla or Piedra Gálvez. He comments: "The sea is less pleasant there than in the Gulf of Almería." It gives the impression that our traveler visited San José one day with a wind from the east, that if it is strong, the waves reach the same rocks. The ponientes eat the sand from the beach and return it with the east.
A fisherman from La Calilla disappeared into the sea one day when he went out alone to remove the longlines that he had cast the previous afternoon.
There was the being of Bastián Crespo, in a wheelchair, the primitive houses, half of the rooms were dug inside the enclosure like the caves of Guadix or Sacromonte, In 1983 it was a town without services, it had no medical service (it came Níjar's doctor once a week), no pharmacy, no telephone, no running water, no sewage, when something urgent happened you had to go to the barracks to get messages through the radiotelephone that they had a radio station there. The television did not look good, the Cerro Enmedio antenna was almost always damaged.
There were three bars: Sebastián's, Emigrante's and Diego's. In 1985, there was a storm surge with waves of nine meters high that damaged the recently built breakwater of the port forcing it to be reinforced. The storms appear suddenly, in the time in the cape it is very variable and changeable. Our traveler stays in town for about twenty minutes, it will be by car, because if he walks to the end of the barracks, bathes and goes up to the Pozo de los Frailes again, he needs two hours.
If our traveler had gone up the lane to the right after the church, he would have seen one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, Genoveses, Barronal, Mónsul and Piedra de la Peineta, where many movies have been filmed. The Barronal beach is nudist, it is filled by a series of white sand dunes, barronales, jujube trees and palm hearts, on the sand we can see the footprint left by an insect or reptile. On the hill, facing the west wind, you can see a windmill, which was the property of Mr. José González Montoya, rebuilt in 1960. It goes up the Rambla de San José, it always proudly displayed its forest of old and thick eucalyptus trees, its de Again along the Pozo de Los Frailes road to the Escullos crossroads, near the Fuentecilla farmhouses, where a passenger car comes to a sudden stop, the driver of which: "wears a dark green suit, walks with a black tie." He invites you to get into his car, a strange thing for a chief to ride a hitchhiker, and they go to the Escuyos, written with the ypsilón or "Greek i", it is actually a phonic deformation of reefs, which abound in the area, Formerly called by Los Galeotes cove, it is a cove sheltered from the west winds, its beach of the arch and its ghostly rock formations are famous, from there you can see the two friars, sister hills and twin with an altitude of 493 meters.
There is a 16th century map in the Torre del Oro in Seville that shows this place, as a refuge for boats and a watering hole such as Los Galeotes cove. There was a jetty there to export esparto grass and barrilla in times past, and in the 20s they shipped cobblestones to pave, Valencia had been paved with curbs from the Los Frailes quarries. On the southern slopes of Mount Los Frailes there was a fountain where esparto grass is cured. The one who invites our traveler is Don Ambrosio, a cacique, apparently the owner of that area, the Escullos and the Isleta. In the eighties, when I lived in San José, those lands belonged to a real estate agency in Madrid, there was also a small urbanization called Las Norias, some Swiss lived, there were abandoned mills, a guard lived with his family. In the conversation that begins between the driver and the traveler, it is said that Don Ambrosio had met some French people at Venta Eritaña and had taken them there where they were excited.
This sale cannot be other than the famous Venta Eritaña in Seville, there is a famous pasodoble «La morena de mi copla» by Jofre de Villegas / Castellanos that names this sale, famous for its tablao. And it is the one that begins: «Julio Romero de Torres painted the brunette woman ...». This sale that was next to a Hotel was inaugurated for the Hispano-American Exposition, in 1929, and that later was the headquarters of the 2nd Mobile Command of the Civil Guard of Seville, the sale has received the visit of Mrs. Picota and I exist, without anyone rising up against this act against culture.
This nod from Don Ambrosio in the Venta de Eritaña is undoubtedly the trait of the cacique and the Andalusian gentleman more archetypal than topic: wine, women and cante. Antonio de Burgos criticized a lot in his highly praiseworthy book: Andalusia ¿Third World ?, Círculo de León, 1972. Antonio de Burgos is a lord of Andalusian letters. Continuing with our devilish criticism, Don Ambrosio, with a flash of superiority, says that he is from Valladolid: «–In Castilla y el Norte people are educated and know the value of things. Not here. When they have money they spend it right away, as if it burned their fingers. The poorer, the more generous.
More generous and supportive. In this novel, Goytisolo brings out the clichés in a generalized way, such as that the Catalans have a reputation for being clingy, the Andalusians lazy and the Castilian and northern people serious. Well, know that beans are cooked everywhere.
Don Ambrosio asks the traveler where he is from, and as the traveler says about Barcelona, a magic word, the expression on Don Ambrosio's face «transforms, he smiles happily», then he confides in him that he was with his late wife in the Universal Exhibition of the year 1929 in Barcelona. It refers to the II Exhibition in the Monjuich Mountain, the first was held in 1988 Parque de la Ciutadella.
From what is seen, Don Ambrosio was in 1929 in Seville and in Barcelona. On page 93 is where the murder of the bishop of Almería, already outlined above, is told. Don Ambrosio's political position is evidenced as an addict to the regime, which was the formula used for certificates of good conduct. They pass near a town surrounded by an orchard, which could very well be the Presillas Bajas, which was a prison during the Republic, hence the name: prison. Presillas Altas that I know do not exist, then it passes near the windmill, which rises to the right waiting for an Andalusian Don Quixote. «The path opens through the gandara and Escuyos suddenly appears to the right. It is a miserable town ravaged by gales, whose houses grow if ordered (…) The car runs aground in a stream and we alight in front of the school ».
As far as I know there was never a school and a tobacconist, there were two restaurants, that of Emilio and the El Chamán nightclub, run by Pedro's son. Pedro's restaurant is gone. There is the great castle of San Felipe, which does not name any of our interlocutors, it was a battery of cannons, they tell us about a keep that these coastal castles did not have, a wedding is celebrated in the chapel, that of Dona Julia, and nothing else is explained to us. The chapel I did not know. In the days that I knew him in 1983-85, he had no door and you could enter perfectly inside, he was seen abandoned, grassy, large rooms with black fire walls. Currently, someone had the idea of projecting films in the parade ground, during the summer months, set up as an open-air cinema.
Here it seems again the corporal of the civilians who greets Don Ambrosio, his name is Elpidio. It is said that the castle would have served as a barracks very well and not build a new one, right next to the castle, on the promontory of rocks, down there is Tomate cove, like a long rock or cliff that juts out into the sea like a knife, with an algae tree that makes the flavor of its marine fauna famous.
Bad life for those law enforcement officials, the police called them until 1941. From Los Escullos they tried to communicate by a coastal track with San José, through the Loma Pelada civil guard barracks, but when they got close to the watchtower From Cala Higuera, the engineers made a mistake when they made the two tracks coincide, each one coming from one direction until they met at a point, and they were cut off.
Past the barracks there was a quarry of clay or chalk (bluish-white calcium carbonate, a kind of white clay). White mineral, the grea, which is abundant on the coast as in Los Genoveses, under the Morrón. Pepe, an old builder from San José, told me that the Loma Pelada barracks did it by carrying the material in boats and bringing it up on mules from the coast. This is how they built it because the track was not there now.
Before saying goodbye, the corporal asks Don Ambrosio if he remembered what he said. He replies: "Last week I phoned his secretary and he promised to call me one of these days." Undoubtedly the use of a recommendation is evoked, it leaves us readers the freedom to think about what seems best to us. In those years of the Franco regime, the chief of the town had the power to change a corporal of the Post, and this should be what the corporal asked him to remove from that Los Escullos barracks. A barracks on a cliff in absolute forgotten solitude, and 40 kilometers from Almería.
Today its walls are desolate. They continue the road along the coast, there was, when I lived, on the edge of a promontory the well-known farmhouse of the Notary, and to the right there was a lane towards the hill of Rellana at 378 meters of altitude, terraced and cultivated with prickly pears. They arrive at a town that will not be named in the novel, and that cannot be other than the Isleta del Moro Arráez, a fishing village sheltered by an islet very close to another that joins the coast for a short isthmus, they are like two prehistoric eggs hatched in the sea, and that some call the Huevos del Moro, because this was a refuge for Barbary and pirates.
Here there were always loose chickens on the esplanade, a washhouse at the entrance, fish driers, especially melba and octopus, or some shortfin mako, boat slip, a small breakwater and in the sea, some trawlers that the natives call boats , sheltered from the easterly winds. But when the west blew, the boats passed to the other side of the rock and when it became a storm they were taken to the town, the town is Carboneras, it brings bad luck to pronounce this name. An ideal place for collectors of magical landscapes.
It smells of nets and salt. When I met him, Uncle Antonio had just built a hotel with eight rooms and a bar with a summer terrace. He had a vegetable garden in the upper basins that he irrigated with cistern water, which Pedro's son-in-law brought in a tanker truck. Antonio died and left the business in the charge of his enterprising son who is also named Antonio.
There were other bars like La Ola and La Marina. He had a school, a church, but he had no doctor or pharmacy. I met three Joaquins in La Isleta, the first being Uncle Joaquín, he lived next to the house of El Chinorro, the oldest of the islanders, he was 82 years old, an esparto craftsman, his baskets and, above all, the esparteñas were a work of art, he gave me a pair in exchange for a wood carving I made of a horse. In an exhibition of crafts that they did in the Diputación de Almería they took their esparteñas. He told me once that in his youth, those who did not know how to make espadrilles or gouges went barefoot. Another Joaquín had a farmhouse next to a waterwheel on the way to the islet, he sold rabbits and eggs, and also raised a pig that slaughtered every year in December, and invited me to the most important social event of the year, we started at 9 in the morning drinking popcorn (brandy with water) and we ended up at night eating freshly cooked black pudding with an impressive fart. What times were those! The third Joaquín was the son of the latter. He had been born on the same day, month and years as me and called him my twin brother.
The inhabitants of the Isleta are entrepreneurs, they know the coast like the palm of their hand, inshore fishermen, large boats are also called cows, tied to the sea with iron in the background, they wait to go out at night to the melba, and the boats stranded on the beach with squid and sea bream. To get them out of the sea you need a winch and fit them through the poles or kind of tracks. Now in 2005 it has been transformed into apartments. They are very religious, they have a church / hermitage, in 1984 I attended a wedding, the daughter of the bar in La Marina.
The coastal fishing boats cast sets for the yampúa to the kite, you take them out with the lines, another highly appreciated on moonlit nights are the red gigote sea breams caught with the squid from the bay, taken into the bucket with the apotera or anchorite at the The grills are fished by trolling between the coves of Los Gatos and La Polacra. The vitoque is called the stopper of the boat to drain when it is taken out of the sea and washed ashore. The fish of this coast is very tasty, unique, due to the cleanliness of the waters and the good health of its alguers, such as those in Cala Galeotes in Los Escullos.
As the boats are made of wood, the caulk almost always spends the day fairing. The fishermen sewing nets, and the women in the laundry that is their meeting place. Don Ambrosio enters La Isleta like a wizard king, distributing sweets to the children, while they run over each other to take one, a certain Juan says he wanted to see him to borrow the house he had bought from Pascual, for two months, because they lived for five in a single room and Martina waiting for another child. The cacique refuses, despite giving Juan his word as a man, despite the pleas and intervention of María, “a thick woman, with prominent features like Juan, who walks with her skirt close to her knees, for whom the wind does not lift it, Don Ambrosio makes excuses: "These things are not fixed in one day, nor in fifteen ... When I know something I will let you know by letter."
Obviously it had to be by letter, there was no telephone there. The traveler and Don Ambrosio go to Joaquín's house to eat porridge, the most common are flour crumbs or bread with fried fish, a gastronomic delight that many diners still have. Or also the "gurullos", pasta made by hand with durum wheat flour, water and salt, of Muslim heritage and used to give body and accompaniment to stews and "paprika broths", elaborations based on dried red peppers of the same denomination that the spices, famous in Almería.
Up there, in the valley, there was a grove of palm trees and a small pool on the slope, on the hill the farmhouse of Don Moisés, with some Spanish flags on a pole as if it were a barracks, they had also been painted on the walls of the whitewashed balates. Very close to there is hidden by a path of pine trees, the beach of the same name, small, secluded, wild, closed, lonely and secluded. They leave La Isleta by car to the Cortijo de los Nietos ...
Note .: (Read full in "In the footsteps of Juan Goytisolo through the “Campos de Níjar”)